Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

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cnorman18

Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #21

Post by cnorman18 »

Jayhawker Soule wrote:
Goat wrote: I suggest you look up 'Humanistic Judaism' also. They have rejected the supernatural claims of Judaism, but still practice Judaism.
It is an interesting stream of Judaiusm. I participated in an SHJ synagogue for a couple of years and had the opportunity of meeting Rabbi Wine on more than one occasion. I found the services, Torah study, seders, etc., to be meaningful and valuable.
You met the late Rabbi Wine? I am envious. He is on the short list of people I had hoped to meet while they were living, but who died before I got the chance. Others are Isaac Asimov, Vincent Price, J. R. R. Tolkien, George Harrison, and Charles Schulz.

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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #22

Post by Goat »

cnorman18 wrote:
Jayhawker Soule wrote:
Goat wrote: I suggest you look up 'Humanistic Judaism' also. They have rejected the supernatural claims of Judaism, but still practice Judaism.
It is an interesting stream of Judaiusm. I participated in an SHJ synagogue for a couple of years and had the opportunity of meeting Rabbi Wine on more than one occasion. I found the services, Torah study, seders, etc., to be meaningful and valuable.
You met the late Rabbi Wine? I am envious. He is on the short list of people I had hoped to meet while they were living, but who died before I got the chance. Others are Isaac Asimov, Vincent Price, J. R. R. Tolkien, George Harrison, and Charles Schulz.
I met Issac Asimov, and he autographed some books for me :P
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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Jayhawker Soule
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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #23

Post by Jayhawker Soule »

cnorman18 wrote:
Jayhawker Soule wrote:
Goat wrote: I suggest you look up 'Humanistic Judaism' also. They have rejected the supernatural claims of Judaism, but still practice Judaism.
It is an interesting stream of Judaiusm. I participated in an SHJ synagogue for a couple of years and had the opportunity of meeting Rabbi Wine on more than one occasion. I found the services, Torah study, seders, etc., to be meaningful and valuable.
You met the late Rabbi Wine?
Had dinner with him a couple of times (along with my Rabbi at the time and a half dozen other folks) prior to him speaking at our synagogue. Actually, I had some issues with the man, but there can be little doubt as to his intelligence and I suspect that I judged him prematurely. His death came as a real shock.

cnorman18

Post #24

Post by cnorman18 »

I have nothing to match either of those. I met Elvis when I was 9, but didn't find out who was till later -- and the same thing happened a decade later with Eric Clapton.

I guess the person I'd most like to meet at present is Stephen King. Among actors and entertainers, maybe Tom Hanks.

I had a chance to meet Glenn Beck. Didn't bother.

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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #25

Post by A Troubled Man »

Goat wrote:
Well, I can verify at least one :P . I suggest you look up 'Humanistic Judaism' also. They have rejected the supernatural claims of Judaism, but still practice Judaism.
It truly is fascinating to see folks like them deciding what they want to believe in their religions as opposed to what their religions want them to believe.

Perhaps, that's exactly the way religions are supposed to work. ;)

cnorman18

Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #26

Post by cnorman18 »

A Troubled Man wrote:
Goat wrote:
Well, I can verify at least one :P . I suggest you look up 'Humanistic Judaism' also. They have rejected the supernatural claims of Judaism, but still practice Judaism.
It truly is fascinating to see folks like them deciding what they want to believe in their religions as opposed to what their religions want them to believe.

Perhaps, that's exactly the way religions are supposed to work. ;)
Er, that's the way Judaism has ALWAYS worked. Of what does a "religion" consist if not the beliefs of the people who follow it? There is no Central Authority in Judaism to make such determinations, and there has not been one since the Sanhedrin was finally dissolved in 358 CE. Even when it existed, the Sanhedrin never dealt with theological or doctrinal matters, but only matters of Jewish law.

"Belief" has never been central in the Jewish religion as it is in most others, anyway; one's theological mental constructs have always been regarded as being of trivial importance next to one's ethical behavior. Therefore, even outright atheism has always been an option for Jews, even before it had a name.

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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #27

Post by A Troubled Man »

cnorman18 wrote: A fair question. Here is a link I've posted many times; there are many more. Just Google "Jewish atheists" and you will see them.
From the link...

"It allows them to feel a sense of Jewishness, but has little to do with religion."

"I want my kids to understand they are Jewish, to be proud of being Jewish and to understand their heritage," Cohen said. "And then they'll have a choice. If they want to go that way (towards belief in God), great. If they don't, they'll have a sense of where they came from."


From what I can glean there, it appears Judaism is shown as a 'heritage' one could either carry on, ignore completely or something in between.

But, it still eludes "towards belief in God" which still does not really answer the atheist issue. Surely, if the parents do believe in God, they are going to make sure their children do too.

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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #28

Post by A Troubled Man »

cnorman18 wrote:
Er, that's the way Judaism has ALWAYS worked. Of what does a "religion" consist if not the beliefs of the people who follow it? There is no Central Authority in Judaism to make such determinations, and there has not been one since the Sanhedrin was finally dissolved in 358 CE.
Er, isn't God the central authority in any religion?

cnorman18

Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #29

Post by cnorman18 »

A Troubled Man wrote:
cnorman18 wrote: A fair question. Here is a link I've posted many times; there are many more. Just Google "Jewish atheists" and you will see them.
From the link...

"It allows them to feel a sense of Jewishness, but has little to do with religion."

"I want my kids to understand they are Jewish, to be proud of being Jewish and to understand their heritage," Cohen said. "And then they'll have a choice. If they want to go that way (towards belief in God), great. If they don't, they'll have a sense of where they came from."


From what I can glean there, it appears Judaism is shown as a 'heritage' one could either carry on, ignore completely or something in between.

But, it still eludes "towards belief in God" which still does not really answer the atheist issue.
That was one opinion among several at that link, and that -- once again -- comes back to how one wishes to define "religion." Obviously Ms. Oko, who made those remarks, defines "religion" as "belief in God." That's a valid enough opinion, but there are others that are just as valid. There is no consensus among Jews on that issue. Witness this, also from that same link: "The question comes down to what it means to sustain a belief in God in Judaism, and that's a complicated issue." -- and the article notes that it is "one that Jews have been debating for centuries." That's very true, and as with most things in Judaism, debate on the matter continues to this day.

The source of THAT remark was Leora Batnitzky, the author of a book I have referenced here more than once: How Judaism Became a Religion; An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought. The idea in that book is that "religion" is a category which did not exist for Jews before the Enlightenment, since for us, culture, heritage, belief, practice and community were all pretty much the same thing. They still are, and one emphasizes the parts of the whole that one chooses; but before that time, the distinctions did not matter, because were were, through no choice of our own, almost entirely isolated from the Gentile world. We lived in separate communities, either shtetls, separate villages, in rural areas, and ghettos (often walled) in towns. The distinction between "religious" and "secular" did not exist for us, and Jews who did not believe were still embraced by the community as a matter of solidarity and survival; they had nowhere else to go. Further, the kind or style of a "proper" belief in God has never been defined in the Jewish religion. My own belief in God, for instance, would hardly be recognizable as such a belief by one who holds supernaturalistic and literalist views -- but both are well within the spectrum of acceptable Jewish belief, as is no belief in God at all.

If one insists that "religion" MUST entail a belief in a personal God -- well, then some, even many, Jews cannot be called "religious." If one assumes that "religion" entails a belief in a personal God with all the usual characteristics -- omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, wholly good, and so on -- then very many more Jews would not be "religious." Of course, very many Jews ARE "religious" in that conventional and familiar way.

However, if one wishes to make a distinction between styles of belief, and between belief and absence of belief, and redefine some categories as "religion" and exclude others, one must deal with the fact that we Jews ourselves make no such distinctions, either between Jews who hold different kinds of beliefs about God or between Jews who hold some such beliefs and those who hold none at all, and have not done so for thousands of years. We don't even know who holds what kinds of beliefs, in practice; we just don't bother to talk about those issues. They are of little to no importance in our "religion," you'll excuse the expression.
Surely, if the parents do believe in God, they are going to make sure their children do too.
Sorry, but that doesn't necessarily follow. We don't even talk about these things within the family; they are not that important to us. Even there, one is "allowed" to believe as one chooses. I doubt that my wife, who was born Jewish, could tell you what her parents believed on that score. She herself holds a rather more conventional belief in God than I do; on the other hand, she does not hold any belief in the "Afterlife" at all. We don't argue about it. What would be the point? Can either of us PROVE to the other that our approach is the "correct" one? Judaism is a very practical religion, and we don't waste our time on issues that can neither be finally and conclusively determined -- nor have any practical real-world significance. We don't even argue with each other about the right way to "keep kosher" or whether to keep kosher at all (I and my wife do not). Freedom of thought and practice is the rule. The only restrictions on belief are against following the tenets of OTHER religions, e.g. worshiping multiple gods, or Allah, or of course a divine Jesus (as discussed in the rest of this thread).

Now, on to your next post:
A Troubled Man wrote:
cnorman18 wrote:
Er, that's the way Judaism has ALWAYS worked. Of what does a "religion" consist if not the beliefs of the people who follow it? There is no Central Authority in Judaism to make such determinations, and there has not been one since the Sanhedrin was finally dissolved in 358 CE.
Er, isn't God the central authority in any religion?
LOL! If one does not BELIEVE in God, that "authority" obviously doesn't apply; but even if one does, God would only be the "central authority" in theory. In practice, the idea is meaningless -- and again, Judaism is a very practical religion, in that it concerns itself with real things in the real world, most notably ethical behavior and community. Without prejudice as to whether God ever spoke directly to humans in the past, he certainly does not do so NOW; and since we do not regard the Torah itself as finally authoritative, and since NO ONE is acknowledged as speaking for God, what's left? Just us.

In the Jewish religion, humans, through the collective consensus of the wisest in the community, who are also identified by consensus, are the ultimate authority. This has been true for centuries on end. A story from the Talmud that I have quoted many, many times here illustrates the principle in parable form. Here it is, yet again, as it appeared in a recent thread ("Reading the Bible as Reason, not Revelation"), where it was reprinted from one of my first posts on this forum five years ago:
One of the most famous stories in the literature is that of an argument among the sages of old. The subject does not matter; it concerned a dispute over the dietary laws, and a minor dispute at that. 



As the story goes, the council had agreed on a conclusion--but one man, a particularly wise and pious sage, Rabbi Eliezer, disagreed. He attempted to change the council's decision by producing various miracles; "If I am right, let that tree move from its place to another a hundred cubits away"--and so it did.



(For those not paying attention, this is a teaching story, a parable. Its historicity is not asserted and is a trivial point. Observe the principle taught.)



Even after several such displays, each more astonishing than the last, the council refused to budge. Finally, Rabbi Eliezer called upon God Himself to confirm his judgment--and God did just that. A Voice from the sky proclaimed the rabbi's decision to be the correct one.



The leader of the council then stood and REBUKED GOD, with the remarkable words, "The Torah is not in Heaven!" - and the decision of the council stood. 



The principle is simple and important: Now that God has entrusted His laws and principles to humans, by whatever means, it is now OUR responsibility to understand and interpret them; we may depend on miraculous displays and supernatural events no longer. We are to grow up and figure out for ourselves what is just and right, and the Torah itself is subject to human judgment.



And what, according to the story, was God's reaction to this? 



He is said to have laughed. "My children have defeated Me!" God was pleased at the development of humans standing on their own, needing His guidance no longer. That is apparently what He intended.



This is not a matter of human arrogance; Jews believe that we were, and are, commanded to do this in the Torah itself. We are to work out the meaning of the Law in every generation, while never turning our backs on the tradition--the cumulative wisdom and judgment of the generations of the Wise who came before us.



Jews do not believe that God gave us a Book that would be an infallible guide to history, science, or even ethics, and that we can stop using our brains and just look up all the answers in its pages. We believe that He gave us brains to use, and to the very best of our ability. 

Another principle is illustrated in that story, which is relevant here; "Voices from Heaven," or other supernatural communications, are regarded as deeply suspect in the Jewish religion. The bat kol, literally "daughter of a voice," is said to be deceptive and mischievous and is not to be trusted. This may have been a medieval way of saying it was a manifestation of mental illness or hallucination. Whatever the reason, Direct Revelation is no longer authoritative for Jews, whether or not it ever was.

One final note: I would remind you of something from an earlier post on this thread, and your response to it:
This post is also not addressed to atheists. I have spoken on the radically different theology (insofar as it exists) of the Jewish religion elsewhere, and many times noted the fact that very many Jews ARE atheists; but all of those issues, and the debates and discussions connected thereto, are not for this thread, and I will not be dealing with them here.
Your reply, in your first post to this thread, begins with: "That's fair..."

This thread is on the very specific issue of why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah. If you want to go farther into the issues you keep bringing up here, I suggest that you do so on another thread, as I implicltly requested in my OP.

Thanks very much.

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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

Post #30

Post by Jayhawker Soule »

A Troubled Man wrote:
cnorman18 wrote:
Er, that's the way Judaism has ALWAYS worked. Of what does a "religion" consist if not the beliefs of the people who follow it? There is no Central Authority in Judaism to make such determinations, and there has not been one since the Sanhedrin was finally dissolved in 358 CE.
Er, isn't God the central authority in any religion?
No. Next.

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